Mamas, this is a topic that is sensitive to all of us: it’s all the things people have to say about our bodies with baby bumps. A few weeks ago my dear friend Mandy wrote to me about the comments she was receiving about the size of her pregnant body from friends, family and colleagues at work. She gave me permission to share her thoughts, and I’m guessing every single mama out there has a story about something someone has said, unsolicited, about their bump. I’d love to have you weigh in!
SHAME ON YOU FOR BODY SHAMING
As I dive head-first into the third trimester of my first pregnancy, I can’t help but notice that everyone seems to have something to say about the size of my body. At first, I let it roll off and even joined in to end the conversation sooner, but now, I’ve reached my limit.
What I find particularly interesting is the difference in tone and tenderness in the comments made by my family, friends, co-workers, and strangers.
“You look beautiful.”
“Your belly is the cutest!”
“Looking good! How do you feel?”
Those are all direct comments I’ve received from my husband, co-workers, and strangers.
“WOW – are you sure there’s only one baby in there?!”
“No offense, because your face, arms, and legs are still tiny, but is this a joke and you’re actually having four babies?”
“Oh MY! There’s no way you’re only X months along. You’re so BIG! Those doctors must be wrong about your due date.”
Those are direct quotes from my siblings and other close relatives. At first, I thought that perhaps this was their way of trying to make me laugh. But I think there’s something more to it. I’ve narrowed it down to three potential reasons:
1. I’ve always been thin. Maybe these people who grew up with me are simply uncomfortable with my changing body and don’t know how to kindly communicate their feelings.
2. Social media is the problem. Most of my family is 2,000 miles away, and the majority of these comments are made in the form of posts or text messages in response to a photo. We all know that people tend to lack human filters on digital forums.
3. They’re inconsiderate assholes.
Whatever the reason, it’s not ok, and I’m going to start sticking up for myself. Here are some ideas I have on how to respond henceforth:
“Just one baby that we know of – but we’re thankful I’m so healthy. Weight gain during pregnancy is normal, and I’m in a healthy range. Thanks for your concern.”
“How interesting. I didn’t realize you were so uncomfortable with my changing body. Feel free to give me a call if you ever want to talk about it. It’s a lot of change for me too, as you can imagine.”
“Turns out I actually am only X months along. It would be great if you could be a little more supportive and focus less on the size of my body and more on ways to keep my spirits up.”
Tbd on the effectiveness of this new approach. If nothing else, I will be amused.
There is no good reason why pregnant women should have to bear the burden of insensitive comments about our bodies. All the changes we’re going through are beautiful, terrifying, and exciting all at the same time. Our journeys are unique and worth celebrating, not shaming.
This really resonated with me. I too received a lot of commentary on my body in my first pregnancy. I’m pretty sure EVERY pregnant woman gets a myriad of unsolicited comments. Why is a baby bump suddenly the green light for people to let loose their thoughts about our bodies?
I didn’t gain a lot of weight (see: Hyperemesis Gravidarum) and I received commentary about how “tiny” I was, and how “great” I looked because I was small or “only belly”. I was “lucky” that I didn’t “even look pregnant from the back!” If I posted a picture, the comments from mom-friends/peers were often centered around the perceived success of my not-too-big pregnant body.
I recognize people who said these things really meant to be complimentary. The world tells us skinny is the ideal, so being on the smaller side as a pregnant woman must be a real treat, right? But honestly, I fretted about my weight gain. When my daughter was born 10 days late, I was surprised at her very average size- I had been told late babies are usually a pound or two bigger than average. She then ate like a ravenous wildebeest from the moment she got to the boob, putting on the pounds at lightening speed. I’ve always wondered if she came out extra hungry because she never got quite enough from me in the womb. I felt like a crappy mom before my kid was even born.
There must, MUST be something better to say to pregnant women of all shapes and sizes that can satisfy the urge to reassure your friend/coworker/lady at the grocery store that she really is glowing with the beauty of motherhood, without any reference to her size. Right?
Thoughts? Any tips for Mandy on great responses you’ve heard or given?